Local group addresses human trafficking in the Piedmont Triad

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- We're hearing about human trafficking more frequently in the state and in the Piedmont Triad. It's a crime law enforcement are starting to learn more techniques about how to fight and using new methods to do it.

Human trafficking is when someone is forced into labor or forced to have sex for money. And it's something local law enforcement is seeing in our community.

One local non-profit is working to combat it.

“What we are seeing in the Guilford County area and the surrounding area is young women who are forced into prostitution at an early age,” said Chelea Spohn with Abolition NC.

The group started around 10 years ago.

“In 2008, we were a group of concerned women who got together and learned about trafficking. Many were surprised to find out that this is actually something that happens in our community. After learning about it felt a need to respond,” she said.

They started Abolition NC to help victims in the community.

“We’ve been able to provide resources for housing and for medical care, for mental health care. It’s also given them a hope that this is not where their true value is and that they do have options,” Spohn said.

The group provides those resources to those in need, but a major focus is also on education. They have curriculums in Guilford County Schools, Rockingham County Schools and Winston Salem Forsyth County Schools.

It's also teaching law enforcement how to recognize signs of human trafficking, how to approach victims and giving additional resources to officers on the streets to help those who have been hurt by these crimes. They even provide classes like to the Rockingham County Sheriff's Office.

“Human trafficking as I mentioned it is new to us. So, we might not be as experienced with it as we are with property crimes, or break-ins, things of that nature so it does help us,” Colonel Alan Farrar with the Rockingham County Sheriff's Office said.

Abolition NC is teaching deputies about the resources they can provide to victims.

“From Abolition North Carolina we’re hoping they’re going to give us some indicators to pick up on. A lot of times we respond to victims of crimes and they may be hesitant to talk to us and there may be some underlying reasons,” Colonel Farrar said.

The non-profit will even go out with law enforcement to help them talk to victims. Efforts to teach in order to help prevent a crime many might not believe is happening so close to home.

“This is happening in our community. It’s happening to our young women and young men. Human trafficking is growing, it is a billion-dollar industry, and it will continue to be an issue unless we address it,” Spohn said.

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